Cakes & Bakes: Macadamia nut & cranberry cookies

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies | H is for Home

I keep forgetting how quick and easy it is to rustle up a batch of cookies. I have a bag of pistachios in the cupboard that needs to be used up, so I decided to make some pistachio & cranberry cookies using a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website.

Chopped macadamia nuts ans dried cranberries | H is for Home

However, when I popped across to the supermarket to get some dried cranberries, I saw that they also did packets of cranberries WITH macadamia nuts.

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookie dough batons | H is for Home Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookie dough batons wrapped in cling film | H is for Home

I love macadamia nuts – a little on the expensive side, but you don’t need that many in the macadamia nut & cranberry cookies I ended up making.

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies, uncooked on a baking tray | H is for Home

They were just so scrumptious! Crumbly, sweet and nutty. A few chunks of white chocolate added to the mix would have gone down a treat as well. I’ll try that combination very soon. I guess I’ll use that bag of pistachios some other time!

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies on a wire cooling rack | H is for Home

Macadamia nut & cranberry cookies
Yields 30
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Cook Time
12 min
Cook Time
12 min
  1. 175g/6oz butter, softened
  2. 85g/3oz golden caster sugar
  3. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  4. 225g/8oz plain flour
  5. 150g/5oz macadamia nuts & cranberries
  7. Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies ingredients
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract
  2. Stir in the flour
  3. Roughly chop the macadamia nuts & cranberries before adding to the mixing bowl. Bring the mix together as a dough
  4. Halve the dough and shape each half into a log about 5cm across. Wrap in cling film, then chill for an hour or freeze for up to 3 months
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF fan/Gas mark 4
  6. Slice the logs into 1cm-thick rounds, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 12-15 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven, leaving the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely
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Cakes & Bakes: Blueberry pie

Slice of home-made blueberry pie | H is for Home

It’s been almost six months since I last posted a pie recipe on Cakes & Bakes. I’ve righted that wrong this week with a blueberry pie.

Blueberry pie pastry dough | H is for Home Uncooked blueberry pie pastry case | H is for Home

Blueberries, sugar & spice | H is for Home

My recipe is a hodgepodge of three others. The blueberry pie filling is from my vintage 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook, Dinner for Two; the sweet pastry is from Dorie Granspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours and the crème anglaise is from that catering college staple, Ceserani & Kinton’s Practical Cookery.

Blueberry pie pastry case and sugared blueberries | H is for Home

Much as I enjoyed this bake, if I were to make another blueberry pie, I’d do it a little differently.

Home-made blueberry pie and lid | H is for Home

Firstly, the blueberry pie filling was WAY too sweet for my taste. Perhaps it wouldn’t have tasted so sweet if the pastry I’d used had been just a plain shortcrust.

Uncooked home-made blueberry pie | H is for Home

Secondly, the filling recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of cinnamon; Justin liked it, but it just didn’t work for me.

Crème Anglaise ingredients | H is for Home

Thirdly (and lastly), I had my first slice with crème anglaise and my second (not straight after, obviously 🙂 ) with double cream. I much preferred the latter version.

Home-made blueberry pie | H is for Home

Perhaps I’ll test my 3rd portion with vanilla ice cream – all in the name of research on behalf of our readers, of course!

Blueberry pie
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For the pastry
  1. 400g/14oz plain flour
  2. 120g/4oz icing sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 250g/9oz very cold butter
  5. 2 egg yolks
For the filling
  1. 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  2. 30g/1oz plain flour
  3. ½tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 375g/13oz blueberries
  5. 2 tbs butter
For the crème anglaise
  1. 300ml/½pt milk
  2. 25g/1oz caster sugar
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. 2-3 drops vanilla extract (I used ¼tsp vanilla bean paste)
  6. Home-made blueberry pie ingredients
For the pastry
  1. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine
  2. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine
  3. Stir the eggs, just to break them up, and add it them little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  4. When the eggs are in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds
  5. Just before your pastry reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change, so listen out
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing
  7. Butter the pie dish and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the dish and over the rim. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbread-ish texture
  8. Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking
  9. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4
  10. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil and fit the foil tightly against the pastry
  11. Bake the pastry for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the pastry has puffed up, press it down gently with the back of a spoon
  12. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool before adding the pie filling
For the filling
  1. Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon
  2. Stir in the blueberries
  3. Turn into pastry-lined pie dish and dot with butter
  4. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a round and, using the rolling pin, carefully lower the pastry over the filling
  5. Press the pastry lid into the pastry bottom either with your thumbs or a fork. Trim the excess and brush the top with a little milk
  6. Bake at 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes or until crust is brown and juice just begins to bubble through slits in the crust
For the crème anglaise
  1. Boil the milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Allow to cool a little
  2. Mix yolks, sugar and vanilla in a basin before adding to the milk
  3. Put the saucepan back on a low heat and stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until the desired thickness. Do NOT boil
  4. Pass through a fine sieve into a serving jug
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Cakes & Bakes: Double espresso brazil nut cake

Slice of home-made double espresso brazil nut cake and double espresso in vintage 'Black Velvet' china | H is for Home

We’ve been enjoying a very successful British summer of sport so far with Andy Murray winning Wimbledon (and Heather Watson the mixed doubles), Danny Willett taking the golf US Masters title and Chris Froome dominating the Tour de France. The England cricket team have been performing well, Lewis Hamilton leads the Formula One championship… and our Olympic prospects are looking bright.

Boiling milk and coffee in a saucepan | H is for Home

Chopped brazil nuts | H is for Home

What could we incorporate into this week’s Cakes & Bakes to mark the start of the afore mentioned Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro? Why brazil nuts of course!

Double espresso brazil nut cake mixture in a pair of round cake tins | H is for Home

Cooked double espresso brazil nut cake layers cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

I trawled all my cook books and the internet and eventually found Dan Lepard’s double espresso brazil nut cake recipe in the Guardian website’s Food & drink section. If you’re a fan of coffee & walnut cake, you’ll love this!

Making the sandwich filling for the double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Chocolate icing filling ingredients | H is for Home

His instructions call for a coffee water icing but I found a chocolate filling that I fancied (from my Little Books of Delight: Chocolate Cakes), so I combined the two together. I also added some whole and chopped brazil nuts to garnish the top. Serve it with a double espresso, what else?!

Iced & decorated double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Double espresso brazil nut cake
Serves 8
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For the cake
  1. 100ml/3½fl oz milk
  2. 2 level tsps instant coffee
  3. 1 tbsp fine-ground roasted coffee beans
  4. 175g/7oz butter, softened
  5. 100g/4oz light soft brown sugar
  6. 100g/4oz caster sugar
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 100g/4oz plain flour
  9. 100g/4oz spelt, rye or wholemeal flour
  10. 2 level tsps baking powder
  11. 75g/3oz brazil nuts, finely chopped
For the chocolate cream filling
  1. 100g/4oz butter
  2. 25g/1oz cornflour
  3. 25g/1oz cocoa powder
  4. 300ml/½pt milk
  5. 50g/2oz dark chocolate
  6. 100g/4oz caster sugar
  7. 8 whole brazil nuts
  8. 10g/⅓oz chopped brazil nuts
  10. Home-made double espresso brazil nut cake ingredients
For the cake
  1. Butter two 20cm Victoria sponge tins and line the bases with discs of non-stick baking paper
  2. Combine the milk, instant coffee and ground coffee in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave until warm
  3. Beat the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time
  4. Beat in the coffee mixture until evenly combined
  5. Sift the two flours and baking powder together two or three times, then beat this through with the chopped brazil nuts
  6. Divide the mixture equally between the tins, heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  8. Remove from the cake tins and cool completely on a wire rack
For the filling
  1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy
  2. Mix the cornflour and cocoa with enough milk to make a smooth paste
  3. Put the chocolate and remaining milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  4. Pour on to the cornflour and cocoa mixture
  5. Return to the pan and simmer for at least 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and continue to simmer until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick custard
  6. Cool, then gradually beat the custard into the butter
  7. Use some of the filling to sandwich the two cake layers together before using the rest to cover the top and sides
  8. Decorate with the whole and chopped brazil nuts
Adapted from The Guardian: Food & drink
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Apricot dartois

Slice of home-made apricot dartois | H is for Home

I’ve been looking at a tin of apricots in our store cupboard for about 2 years. Every time I opened the door it said, “use me, use me”, but I always reached for something else. But not this week – it was finally the apricots’ time!

Frangipane ingredients | H is for Home Home-made frangipane | H is for Home

I decided on a recipe from Michel Roux’s Desserts: A Lifelong Passion and made an apricot dartois.

Ready-made puff pastry | H is for Home

Dartois is traditionally two layers of puff pastry with a sandwiched layer of frangipane or jam. It can occasionally contain a savoury filling.

Making an apricot dartois base | H is for Home

It’s quite a simple recipe – especially if you’re using ready-made puff pastry – and the pastry cutting is very straightforward too. Don’t be put off by the precision! The amount of frangipane made in the given recipe is HUGE! I halved the recipe (what’s half of 5 eggs? I just used 3 medium-sized ones) it still made half a kilo of the stuff. I set aside the 150 grams needed for the recipe then portioned up the rest into small lidded tubs and froze it all for use at a later date.

Making an apricot dartois pastry lid | H is for Home

The resulting dartois is very attractive and very delicious. I don’t think it would look out of place in a French patisserie’s shop window!

Uncooked apricot dartois | H is for Home

I used tinned apricots, but peaches, pears, plums or figs also work really well. If you’ve got fresh fruit, you can easily poach it beforehand in syrup.

Cooked home-made apricot dartois | H is for Home

Serve warm or cold with a fruit coulis, cream or ice cream.

Apricot dartois
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For the frangipane [Makes 1.15kg/2lbs 10oz. I halved the recipe and still had enough for 3 portions]
  1. 250g/9oz butter, at room temperature
  2. 500g/1lb 2oz 'tant pour tant' (equal quantities of ground almonds and icing sugar sifted together)
  3. 50g/2oz plain flour
  4. 5 eggs
  5. 50ml/2 fl oz rum (optional)
For the dartois
  1. 1 500g pack of ready-made puff pastry (or you could make your own)
  2. 150g/5oz frangipane
  3. eggwash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 soup spoon of milk and a pinch of salt)
  4. 1 tin apricot halves, drained (or you could poach your own)
  5. Icing sugar for dusting
  7. Home-made apricot dartois ingredients
To make the frangipane
  1. Beat the butter until very soft
  2. Still beating, add the tant pour tant and flour
  3. Add the eggs - one at a time - beating well between each addition until the frangipane is light an homogeneous
  4. Stir in the rum
To make the dartois
  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll 225g/8oz of the pastry into a 27cm x 12cm/11" x 5" rectangle
  2. Roll this pastry around the rolling pin, then unroll it on to a baking sheet lightly dampened with cold water. Prick the pastry with a fork
  3. Using a spoon, spread the frangipane along the length of the pastry leaving a clear 2cm/¾" border on either side
  4. Brush these pastry borders with eggwash
  5. Pat dry the apricots and arrange them on the frangipane
  6. Roll out the remaining pastry into a 27cm x 13cm/11" x 5½" rectangle
  7. Fold the pastry in half lengthways without applying pressure
  8. Make incisions down the length of the pastry about every 4mm/⅙" with the heel of a chef's knife, leaving a 2cm/¾" strip intact on the two outside edges
  9. Unfold the pastry into its original shape and drape it over the rolling pin and unroll it on to the apricot-filled rectangle
  10. Lightly press the edges together with your fingertips and refrigerate the dartois for 30 minutes
  11. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/345ºF/gas mark 4
  12. Using a chef's knife, trim off about 3mm/⅛" in pastry along the length of the rectangle
  13. Delicately and sparingly brush the top of the pastry with egg wash
  14. Liberally brush the sides with more egg wash
  15. With the tip of a small, sharp knife, make light, diagonal incisions in the borders, then along the edges
  16. Bake for 25 minutes. Increase the temperature to 195ºC/380ºF/gas mark 6, dust the dartois with icing sugar and return it to the oven for 1-2 minutes, or place it under a hot salamander/grill for a few seconds until beautifully glazed
  1. Roux recommends serving it with a little jug of red fruit coulis. I prefer it with pouring cream.
Adapted from Desserts: A Lifelong Passion
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Cakes & Bakes: Daktyla

Home-made daktyla | H is for Home

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a small jar of black onion seeds with the plan of using it in and sprinkled on a home-made loaf of onion bread. Little did I know that onion seeds aren’t actually… onion seeds! I tasted a pinch expecting a blast of onion flavour, it had a slight onion/black pepper/earthy taste, not altogether unpleasant though.

Bubbling bread sponge | H is for Home

When I looked it up, black onion seeds are actually nigella seeds; they’re also commonly known as black cumin or kalonji. Love in a Mist, which grows on our allotment, is a very close relation. I wonder whether it’s seeds are also edible.

Mixture of sponge, flour, olive oil and seeds | H is for Home

Anyhow, since my onion loaf idea was scuppered (at least for the time being) I looked into what I could make using my black onion seeds. That’s when I came across daktyla, a Greek/Cypriot/Turkish rustic bread.

Rising daktyla dough | H is for Home

The seeds are mixed with sesame seeds both in and atop a sort of tear-and-share loaf made up of rows of dough. Δάχτυλα, (daktyla in Greek) means ‘fingers’.

Daktyla dough balls | H is for Home Daktyla dough batons

I just happened to have a large bag of black sesame seeds that I bought in a Chinese supermarket, so I already had all the necessary ingredients in stock.

Sprinkling seeds on daktyla dough | H is for Home

There was quite a lot of proofing time involved – an hour for the sponge, 90 minutes for the first proof, another 90 for the second – but it meant that I could get on and do other things in between time.

Details of cooked daktyla | H is for Home

It was delicious with baba ganoush and salad. I imagine it would go down well with hummus, feta and Anari cheeses, olives and cured meats.

Serves 8
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For the sponge
  1. 130g/4½oz strong white bread flour
  2. 70g/2½oz cornmeal/polenta
  3. 7g/¼oz instant yeast
  4. 300ml/10½ fl oz warm water
For the dough
  1. 240g/8½oz strong white bread flour
  2. 1½ tsp salt
  3. 2tbsp olive oil
  4. 30g/1oz toasted sesame seeds + 1tbsp to sprinkle over the loaf
  5. 1 tablespoon nigella seeds + 1tsp to sprinkle over the loaf
  7. Home-made daktyla ingredients
For the sponge
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the strong white bread flour, cornmeal, yeast and warm water making sure there are no lumps (A Danish dough whisk is perfect for this job). Allow the mixture rest for an hour, or until it's foamy and full of bubbles
For the dough
  1. Combine the remaining ingredients into the sponge and knead -- by hand, mixer, food processor or bread machine -- to form a soft, supple dough, adding a small amount of extra water or flour as needed
  2. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover it with a proof cover or cling film. Allow it to rise for 1½ hours, or until almost doubled in size
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface and divide the dough into 8 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, then shape each into a baton about 10cm/4-in in length
  4. Grease or line with parchment, a 46 x 33cm / 18 x 13-in baking sheet
  5. Place the ovals of dough side by side (long sides almost touching each other) on the sheet, leaving about 2½cm/1-in between each; they'll fill the pan end to end
  6. Cover the baking sheet and allow the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it's expanded enough so that the ovals are touching each other
  7. Brush the top of the dough very lightly with water (or spray it gently), and sprinkle with a mixture of toasted sesame seeds and nigella seeds
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190ºC/375°F/Gas mark for 25-30 minutes, until it's golden brown
  9. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
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Cakes & Bakes: Elderflower shortbread

Home-made elderflower shortbread petticoat tails | H is for Home

It’s elderflower season again – one of the classic smells and tastes of summer!

Sprigs of elderflowers infusing into caster sugar | H is for Home

We see those frothy white flowers growing wild all around and can’t bear to see them going to waste.

Antique shortbread mould floured with polenta | H is for Home

We’ve already made a large batch of elderflower cordial which will last us a good few months. In the past, there’s also been elderflower champagne and elderflower cakes too. This week, we decided to try some biscuits – elderflower shortbread to be precise.

Home-made elderflower shortbread round prior to being cooked | H is for Home

There are various methods for incorporating the flowers’ flavour into the biscuit. We experimented with three – using cordial as one of the ingredients, infusing the sugar with elderflower bunches and finally incorporating the tiny petals into the biscuit mix itself.


We found that cordial made the biscuits a bit hard, crystalline and possibly too sweet. The infused sugar runs the risk of lots of creepy crawlies escaping into the sugar (even if you shake carefully) – and the resulting elderflower flavour wasn’t intense enough for us. The last technique worked best for us – by quite a long way actually, so that would be our recommendation. The resulting shortbread was moist and crumbly with a wonderful distinctive flavour – give them a go before those flowers disappear!

Elderflower shortbread
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
  1. 3 elderflower heads
  2. 75g/3oz caster sugar
  3. 175g/6oz plain flour
  4. 75g/3oz fine semolina
  5. 175g/6oz butter
  7. Home-made elderflower shortbread ingredients
  1. Make sure the elderflower heads are free of insects and brown bits
  2. Using scissors, carefully snip off the little flower heads add to the sugar and stir in. Allow to infuse for about an hour
  3. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2
  4. If using a mould, sprinkle it with semolina to prevent the dough from sticking
  5. Put the elderflower-infused sugar, flour, semolina and butter into a food processor and combine for about 30 seconds or until lumps begin to form
  6. Turn the mixture out on to a lightly floured work surface and bring together into a ball
  7. Press the dough evenly into your mould (or baking tin). If using a mould, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment
  8. Prick the top with a fork to prevent it from rising
  9. Bake for about an hour or until the shortbread just begins to brown
  10. Remove from the oven on to a wire cooling rack
  11. While still a bit warm score the top with a knife into petticoat tails/portions
  12. Once cooled completely, remove from the tin and cut into pieces
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to a week
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